Alcohol Ban in India

Alcohol Ban in India
Alcohol has been in use since time immemorial and not just in India but worldwide. It is a depressant drug that most of the consumers use for the ‘feel-good’ effect it provides. It’s a simple method resorted to by the people who want to get away from their monotony, get temporary relief from their problems or just to celebrate something. Alcohol consumption is considered a social evil and is frowned upon by the majority of society. But despite all that, 30% Indians consume alcohol regularly and 11% are moderate to heavy drinkers. Alcoholism is the cause of many problems like drunk driving, domestic violence, fights and sometimes deaths due to the consumption of poisonous alcohol. It is because of all these reasons that Mahatma Gandhi and also many notable women advocated a nationwide ban on alcohol post-independence. However, India did not put a blanket ban on the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol. But, it is the Directive Principle of State Policy under article 47 of the Indian Constitution that states, “…the State shall endeavor to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health”. The alcohol ban or prohibition in India has its start when the Bombay state prohibited it from 1948 to 1950 and again from 1958. But the bifurcation of the Bombay state into Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1960 resulted in Gujarat enforcing The Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 while Maharashtra has a licensing system where vendors and traders with a proper license can sell the liquor but to an adult of proper age. In Gujarat, the manufacture and sale of homemade alcohol which causes casualties can invite the death penalty according to The Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2009. In India, the states of Bihar, Nagaland, Gujarat and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep has banned the sale and consumption of alcohol. In the case of Manipur, it is effective in some parts of the state. There have been various other states which implemented the ban on alcohol but it was repealed with time, these include Kerala, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, and Manipur. In 1954, one-third of India was under prohibition. A committee in 1954 set the target to achieve the national ban by 1958 but due to potential loss to the state revenue, the states didn’t take it up. In 1964, the Centre offered to compensate for half of the loss but most of the states didn’t take it up and removed the prohibition. The complete ban was implemented in Madras state (Tamil Nadu and 11 districts of Andhra Pradesh) from 1958 to 1969. Again in 1994, N.T. Rama Rao implemented the ban in Andhra Pradesh which was lifted by N. Chandrababu Naidu in 1997 citing the “leakages within the state and from across the borders”. The issue of Alcohol Ban is used as a political tool in the past when the Bansi Lal led Haryana Vikas Party promised to ban alcohol before polls in 1996 and came to power and they fulfilled the promise that led to their victory. However, because of the poor showing in Lok Sabha elections and indictment of Bansi Lal and the prohibition minister Ganeshi Lal by the Justice J C Verma Commission for creating a “situation for smuggling of liquor”, the ban was revoked in 1998. In the case of Kerala, the United Democratic Front (UDF) government banned alcohol in 2014 but it was revoked by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in 2017 which came to power in 2016 because of the heavy losses to the state revenue and decrease in tourism. In the case of Mizoram, alcohol’s sale and consumption were banned in 1997 by the use of the Mizoram Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1995 but 17 years later, it was repealed in 2014 by passing the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Bill, 2014. In the case of Manipur, the alcohol ban was effective from April 1991 implemented by the R. K. Ranbir Singh government but in 2002, it was lifted off from the five hill districts when the Okram Ibobi Singh government passed the Manipur Liquor Prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2002. Still in Manipur, the ban is applicable in Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur districts. Now, coming to the states where the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol is still enforceable. The recent case of Bihar makes for an interesting study. The Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar announced the banning of alcohol in November 2015 but it was officially declared on 5th April 2016. And the penalty for violation of the ban could invite jail terms from 5 years to 10 years. However, the Patna High Court declared the ban as “illegal, impractical and unconstitutional” on September 30th, 2016. But the Bihar government changed the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 with stricter measures which included jail term from 10 years up to life for unlawful import, manufacture, possession, sale, and consumption of alcohol and a fine of rupees 1 lakh to 1o lakh can be levied. Then, the government approached the Supreme Court which then stayed the High Court order. However, it renewed the licenses of the canteens in cantonment areas, military and air force station. A remarkable event happened on 21st January 2017 when around 3 crore people joined hands along the 12,760 km roads to show solidarity with the CM for implementing the ban. Gujarat is the state which has been implementing the ban for the longest time. However, foreigners and visitors from the rest of India are allowed to purchase alcohol by obtaining a permit. The Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act, 1989 banned sale and consumption of alcohol in the state but the implementation is lenient. The bootlegging happens in broad daylight. The union territory of Lakshadweep is the only UT that has banned the sale and consumption of alcohol but consumption is permitted on Bangaram Island. Apart from the statewide bans, the dry days are also observed nationally and when the sale of liquor is prohibited. Independence Day, Republic Day, and Gandhi Jayanti are observed as dry days nationally and in the case of the state, different state observe dry days according to the demography. Also, the Election Commission implements the dry days according to the poll dates and the result dates. The nation-wide alcohol ban should be implemented or not is debatable but the socio-economic impact of such a decision is vast. In the case of Bihar, the sale of honey went up by 380%, of cheese by 200%, of expensive sarees by 1,751% and that of expensive dress material by 910%. There is a dip of 66.6% in kidnapping for ransom cases and 28.3%dip in murder cases. The 4.4 million Bihar people who consumed alcohol saved 5,280 crore rupees every year. The facts above are heartening but in the case of Haryana, which implemented the ban from 1996-1998 lost 1200 crore of the state revenue, 20,000 jobs in brewing, distilling and retailing were lost. The truckers, farmers and bottle producers reported decreased income. So, the alcohol ban is not feasible if not implemented with an iron fist.
References:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_prohibition_in_India http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/the-tragedy-of-prohibition/490493/0 http://www.icmrindia.org/free%20resources/casestudies/The%20Indian%20Liquor%20Industry%20Prohibition%20Story.htm https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/Alcohol_laws_of_India.html https://legodesk.com/blog/alcohol-ban-in-india/ https://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/india/alcohol-consumption-in-india https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bihar-liquor-ban-bihar-buying-better-food-expensive-clothes-after-liquor-ban-say-studies-1868775

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